Get AfricaFocus Bulletin by e-mail!
on your Newsreader!
Format for print or mobile
Visit AfricaFocus Bookshop US |
Africa: Time to Pay for Climate "Loss and Damage"
November 18, 2013 (131118)
(Reposted from sources cited below)
"The U.S. delegation negotiating at the U.N. international climate
change conference in Poland is pushing an agenda of minimising the
role of "Loss and Damage" in the UNFCCC framework, prioritising
private finance in the Green Climate Fund, and delaying the
deadline for post-2020 emission reduction commitments, according to
a State Department negotiating strategy which IPS has seen." Inter
The massive typhoon in the Philippines, coming only days before the
latest global climate talks in Warsaw, has highlighted several
- the future of massive "loss and damage" from climate change is
not just future -- it's already here;
- the loss and damage is concentrated on the most vulnerable people
and regions of the world, precisely those least responsible for
the historical emissions which are the principal cause; and
- rich countries and multinational corporations are strongly
resisting the necessary urgent actions, which include not only
drastic cuts in their their high per capita emissions from fossil
fuels but also paying their just share of the damage - the "climate
As the delegate of the Philippines went on hunger strike at the
Warsaw talks (see a video of his powerful speech at
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cV1VxgneS-A, government and non-governmental organizations from
Africa, such as the Pan African Climate Justice Alliance (PACJA)
were also speaking more loudly in Warsaw. Activists around the
world are stepping up direct actions against fossil fuel companies,
placing little faith in international conferences. Even though
resistance to action is still the dominant trend, The need to pay
the "climate debt" is moving higher on the international agenda.
This AfricaFocus Bulletin contains several recent short reports on
the subject of climate finance, reports from Warsaw by the Inter
Press Service and the Thomson Reuters Foundation, and excerpts from
a report from Oxfam International on the failed promises of climate
financing to date.
For previous AfricaFocus Bulletins on environmental and climate
issues, visit http://www.africafocus.org/envexp.php
++++++++++++++++++++++end editor's note+++++++++++++++++
U.S. Fights G77 on Most Counts at Climate Meet, Leaked Doc Shows
By Claudia Ciobanu
http://www.ipsnews.net / direct URL: http://tinyurl.com/okdwtkq
Warsaw, Nov 14 2013 (IPS) - The U.S. delegation negotiating at the
U.N. international climate change conference in Poland is pushing
an agenda of minimising the role of "Loss and Damage" in the UNFCCC
framework, prioritising private finance in the Green Climate Fund,
and delaying the deadline for post-2020 emission reduction
commitments, according to a State Department negotiating strategy
which IPS has seen.
The document, which has been leaked to a pair of journalists
covering the Nov. 11-22 COP in Warsaw, outlines the U.S. strategy
for the negotiations to diplomats at their various embassies as
well as 'talking points' for them to push with their respective
countries before the talks began.
The paper makes it clear that, despite President Barack Obama's
progressive stances on climate issues over the past year, the U.S.
continues to pose difficulties to closing an international global
climate deal by strongly resisting the concept of historical
responsibility for emissions and positioning itself in opposition
to developing countries on the main issues at stake.
COP19 started this year under the shadow of the Haiyan typhoon in
the Philippines which put a tragic emphasis on what was anyway
going to be one of the main issues to be debated here in Warsaw:
the so-called "Loss and Damage" - that is, assistance for countries
that are already hit by the devastating effects of climate change
(what is already "beyond adaptation").
Loss and Damage is a relatively new issue on the public agenda of
COP meetings: it was in Doha at COP18 last year that negotiators
decided to establish in the future a mechanism for dealing with LD.
On Nov. 12, the developing countries' group G77+China made a public
submission to the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change
(UNFCCC) with their proposal for what an international mechanism
for Loss and Damage under the UNFCCC framework could look like and
how it could function. This would now constitute the basis for
further negotiations here.
But according to the U.S. State Department position, any work on
Loss and Damage should be done under the already existing framework
for dealing with adaptation to climate change, not as a third,
separate pillar (in addition to the two existing ones, mitigation
and adaptation), as the G77+China submission requests.
"A third pillar," says the U.S. position, "would lead the UNFCCC to
focus increasingly on blame and liability which in turn could be
counterproductive from the standpoint of public support for the
"We are strongly in favour of creating an institutional arrangement
on loss and damage that is under the Convention's adaptation track,
rather than creating a third stream of action that's separate from
mitigation and adaptation," writes the leaked U.S. document.
The U.S. fears an increased "focus on liability" during the
international negotiations on climate because that would de facto
translate into an admission of historical responsibility by
developed countries for emissions leading to climate change and a
subsequent legal obligation to pay a price for this responsibility.
The issue of historical responsibility for emissions has been one
of the main bones of contention, if not the main one, over
successive COP meetings.
Yet for most developing countries coming to Warsaw, particularly
for small island states and the least developed countries, making
solid progress on Loss and Damage is a key point on their agenda.
"And if we have failed to meet the objective of the Convention
[i.e., preventing anthropogenic climate change], we have to
confront the issue of loss and damage," said Philippine head of
delegation Yeb Sano in his emotional introductory speech at the
"Loss and damage from climate change is a reality today across the
world. Developed country emissions reductions targets are
dangerously low and must be raised immediately, but even if they
were in line with the demand of reducing 40-50 percent below 1990
levels, we would still have locked-in climate change and would
still need to address the issue of loss and damage," he said.
"Loss and Damage has been causing very intense discussions," said
Chinese negotiator Su Wei during a briefing Nov. 14. "It will all
depend on the political will of developed countries, if they are
going to take action to assume responsibility for the emissions
they historically produced."
When it comes to the Green Climate Fund, meant to assist developing
countries with adaptation and mitigation and on whose set-up and
financing progress is expected in Warsaw, the U.S. position writes,
"We're also working to intensify our coordination in the context of
the Green Climate Fund board to shape an institution that could
leverage private investment more effectively than any other
multilateral climate fund."
Yet some developing countries are extremely wary of financial
assistance promised by developed countries being translated into
private investments as opposed to grants and aid.
"Already in the pre-COP summit organised by Poland, one and a half
days out of three were dedicated to companies which were there to
present to developing countries technology which they could buy to
help with mitigation," said Rene Orellana, head of the Bolivian
delegation, on the first day of the COP. "Linking markets to the
financial provisions [under UNFCCC] means a diluted responsibility
for developed countries."
Finally, the U.S. position might turn out to pose problems to the
European Union as well, because when it comes to post-2020 emission
reductions, it says, "There is divergence [among the parties
negotiating] on when Parties will put forward initial commitments
and the timing of the conclusion of the future agreement, with the
U.S. pushing for early 2015 while the EU wants commitment on the
table in September 2014."
COP19 in Warsaw is supposed to advance negotiations both when it
comes to setting up a mechanism for post-2020 emission reductions
by countries across the globe and to tightening current emission
targets of developed countries (2020 targets are deemed
insufficient to keep the world on track for two degrees as a target
maximum temperature rise).
On post-2020 emissions, a consensus is emerging that countries
would present emission pledges before COP21 in Paris 2015 (when a
new international climate agreement is expected to be signed) which
would then be assessed for appropriateness in light of what is
needed to limit global warming to two degrees Celsius.
Coming forward with emission pledges in early 2015, for which the
U.S. is pushing, would mean giving less time for an international
review of the appropriateness of the pledges, especially a review
that could happen at the COP20 in Peru, a host that could
potentially be tougher on developed countries.
Responding today to the leaking of the draft, the U.S. delegation
in Warsaw told the Indian newspaper The Hindu: "The U.S. is
dedicated to achieving an ambitious, effective and workable outcome
in the UNFCCC and in Warsaw, and our positions are designed to
further this goal. We are engaging with all countries to find
solutions that will give momentum to the effort to tackle climate
Africans seek clarity on climate finance at Warsaw talks
Thomson Reuters Foundation - 14 Nov 2013
Author: Elias Ntungwe Ngalame
Warsaw (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - African negotiators and
climate activists have called on wealthy nations at U.N. climate
talks in Warsaw to say how they willl boost funding for African and
other developing states to adapt to climate change and pursue green
"African governments need access to climate funds. These funds are
needed for climate adaptation, mitigation and technology transfer,
capacity building and forest conservation," Joseph Armathe Amougou,
head of the Cameroon delegation at the climate conference, told
Thomson Reuters Foundation. "Most of the money promised is still to
be made available by donors and we think Warsaw is the place for a
decision to be taken.''
Other African representatives said climate impacts are multiplying
in many developing nations like the typhoon-hit Philippines,
underlining the need to protect vulnerable states from rising risks
of extreme weather.
"We have just listened and watched with horror what has happened in
the Philippines, and we know that similar impacts of climate change
are ravaging many other countries in Africa - with attendant loss
of lives, property and means of livelihood eroded on a daily
basis," said Augustine Njamnshi of the Cameroon branch of the
Bioresources Development and Conservation Programme, an Africafocused
"Heavy floods in the Far North region of Cameroon in 2012, for
example, claimed over 250 lives, leaving families and the
government helpless," he added.
The World Bank estimates that $30-100 billion will be needed to
finance climate adaptation annually by 2030, and an additional
$140-175 billion will be required for mitigation efforts to reduce
greenhouse gas emissions.
Developed nations have promised to mobilise $100 billion a year for
these two purposes by 2020, up from around $10 billion in annual
"fast start" climate finance from 2010 to 2012.
"The sums required are significantly larger than the pledged $100
billion by the year 2020," said a statement setting out the
position of African civil society for the U.N. negotiations.
"Developed countries have agreed to maintain average finance levels
- roughly $10 billion a year - which they provided during
2010-2012, until 2015. But they have made no pledges for 2015-2020,
leaving a five-year gap."
A separate report published by aid group Oxfam on Monday said poor
countries have little idea about what money is available to help
them cope with climate change, because of murky accounting methods
and a lack of transparency by rich countries.
The report revealed that 24 developed countries have still not
confirmed their climate finance for this year, and for 2014, donor
governments that together provided around four fifths of fast start
funding have still not announced any figures. Only Britain has
announced its plans for climate finance in 2015.
Oxfam estimates that the climate finance contributions claimed by
developed countries in 2013 total $16.3 billion so far, although
actual net budget allocations may be closer to $7.6 billion as some
donor countries have counted loans that will be repaid to them.
The report calls on rich countries to make clear in Warsaw what
money is available now and the future. Only the United States, the
European Union, Japan and New Zealand have adhered to a commitment
made at last year's Doha talks to say how they will increase
funding to reach their share of the $100 billion a year promised by
"Uncertainty from one year to the next makes it impossible for
vulnerable countries to take the action they need to protect their
citizens," said Oxfam's climate change spokesperson Kelly Dent.
"This murkiness will only heighten distrust around the negotiating
Climate finance is the key to unlocking barriers to climate action
across the African continent, African activists said.
''Climate-vulnerable, least developed countries need increased
finance to adapt to the impacts of climate change. How will these
resource-poor countries adapt without the necessary funds in place?
'' asked Mithika Mwenda, secretary general of the Pan African
Climate Justice Alliance (PACJA).
Sharing the 'Emissions Budget'
African negotiators and campaigners also called on rich nations to
cut their climate-changing emissions more deeply.
"We demand that developed countries fulfill and implement their
commitments under the U.N. climate convention, in order to fairly
share the necessary 'emissions budget', and avoid catastrophic
climate change impacts," Mwenda said.
Habtemariam Abate of the Ethiopian Civil Society Network on Climate
Change agreed with the concept of an "emissions budget", raised in
a recent report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change
(IPCC) which estimated a limit to the cumulative amount of carbon
dioxide the world can emit if it wants to keep global temperature
rise to 2 degrees Celsius.
"Africans expect governments to stand firm on setting an emissions
budget, as recommended by the IPCCC. They must then share this
budget fairly, based on historical responsibility and capacities,"
In line with this approach, African civil society groups also set
out proposals on how to deliver energy access to those who lack it,
while avoiding the use of dirty fossil fuels. They also recommended
the adoption of a globally funded feed-in tariff, which could
encourage the development of renewable energy.
"Warsaw should be the place and moment for the world to choose
clean over dirty energy, and Africa will be championing this
choice. The best (climate) agreement on Earth won't make a
difference without implementation in the real world. That's why one
of the clear outcomes in Warsaw must be the drastic scaling up of
climate finance and technology transfer," PACJA said in a paper
presented to journalists.
After the Fast Start: Climate finance in 2013 and beyond: An
examination of developed countries' climate finance provisions
Oxfam Media Briefing
11 November 2013 Ref: 08/2013
Excerpts: full report available at http://www.oxfam.org / direct
Following the end of the 'fast start finance' period, most
developed countries are now failing to demonstrate promised
increases. Based on confirmed figures, there is no confidence that
climate finance is on an increasing trend towards the 2020 promise.
The current picture for 2013 and beyond:
- Many developed countries have failed to provide clarity on how
much finance is available for 2013, including Australia and Canada.
Only very few countries can demonstrate increases (e.g. UK and
Germany). Regarding 2014, the situation is even worse. Countries
that previously contributed 81 per cent of 'fast start' finance
have yet to confirm their planned climate finance levels for 2014.
Almost no country has said anything about 2015.
- At last year's UN climate talks in Doha, developed countries made
announcements of 8.4 billion USD in climate finance for 2013.
Additional information since then means that publicly indicated
finance now adds up to around 16.3 billion USD, though the actual
net budget allocations may be closer to 7.6 billion USD as some
countries have counted loans that will be repaid.
- Major uncertainties make it impossible to compare this year's
commitments to previous years. The 2013 figure only appears to
indicate that developed countries have maintained or even increased
climate finance compared to the fast start period. Instead, many
countries are now including a lot more in their figures than they
did during the fast start period. This is further complicated by
opaque accounting methods, lack of data and other uncertainties.
- Most countries' climate finance levels appear to have either
plateaued or even decreased. Much of what is seen as climate
finance is redirected from aid budgets, or climate-related
development aid, which is not principally focused on climate
- Developed countries have so far failed to provide credible plans
on how they are going to meet the 100 billion USD goal, despite
agreeing at last year's UN climate talks to provide relevant
information to that end.
Climate Finance in 2013 and beyond
Two key commitments helped to save the 2009 UN Climate Change
Conference in Copenhagen from disaster: 1) Developed countries
agreed to provide 30 billion USD over the course of 20102012 as
'fast start' finance to help developing countries in the fight
against climate change and, 2) they further committed to mobilise
100 billion USD a year by 2020.
The fast start period has come to an end. While perhaps successful
in terms of spurring action on climate change in many countries, in
most cases it failed to live up to the promise of being 'new and
additional'. The focus has now turned to the long-term goal of
ramping up climate finance to 100 billion USD a year by 2020.
With the 2020 deadline fast approaching, discussions both inside
and outside the UN have increasingly started to focus on mobilising
private finance to help meet the 100 billion goal USD. This
overlooks the critical role of public finance both in supporting
the adaptation needs of the world's most vulnerable communities, as
well as in shifting private sector investment towards low- carbon
and climate-resilient development.
At stake are the lives and livelihoods of poor and vulnerable
communities on the front lines of the climate crisis, already
grappling with the impacts of global warming around the world. They
urgently need promised assistance to adapt essential livelihoods
systems to a changing climate, especially food production.
Developing countries also need promised support to put their
economies on emissions pathways that allow the world to avoid
warming of more than the 2 degrees C limit set in Copenhagen, let
alone the 1.5ÂºC that is seen as the maximum warming acceptable to
the most vulnerable populations and for small and low-lying island
The 2013-2015 period is a litmus test for developed countries'
commitment to scaling-up climate finance towards the 2020 goal. So
far, most of them have failed this test. Last year's UN climate
talks ended without clarity on the overall level of climate finance
they intend to provide in the immediate future, just before Warsaw
the situation has not changed.
Climate finance in 2013: Going up or down?
In Doha a handful of European countries publicly announced their
plans for climate finance in 2013 and in some cases for 2014 as
well. While these announcements were no more than a matter of
revealing existing plans and budgets, they were welcomed as a sign
of goodwill. Most developed countries, including the US, Australia,
Canada, Japan and New Zealand, remained silent, casting doubt over
whether they intend to live up to their commitments.
Such announcements correspond to 8.4 billion USD of finance in
2013. Since the Doha climate talks in 2012, more information has
become available from a few more countries, but even after Oxfam
had made direct enquiries to governments, information is still
lacking from many countries. The information that can be found is
often fragmented and plagued by the lack of common definitions and
accounting practices, allowing some countries to count loans at
face value, while other countries count their actual budget
allocations; yet other countries would include not only finance
specifically earmarked to fund climate action but also development
assistance "with climate co-benefits" in their figures.
Irrespective of such questionable accounting methods, Oxfam
estimates a total of 16.3 billion USD of finance for 2013, either
announced in Doha or based on publicly indicated figures since
then, though the actual net budget allocations may be closer to 7.6
billion USD as some countries have counted loans that will be
repaid. While the analysis does not include information for all
developed countries, it does cover those that made announcements in
Doha or have been key providers of fast start finance 2010-2012.
Yet with this overall number it is impossible to assess whether
developed countries are actually increasing climate finance
following the end of the fast start period. When looking at
individual countries, the situation looks grim. With the exception
of a couple of countries (including Germany and the UK) that have
increased contribution levels, developed country commitments appear
to have plateaued at best or even decreased, with the US Special
Envoy for Climate Change downplaying expectations that much-needed
assistance will increase anytime soon in line with promises made.
AfricaFocus Bulletin is an independent electronic publication
providing reposted commentary and analysis on African issues, with
particular focus on U.S. and international policies. AfricaFocus
Bulletin is edited by William Minter.
AfricaFocus Bulletin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please
write to this address to subscribe or unsubscribe to the bulletin,
or to suggest material for inclusion. For more information about
reposted material, please contact directly the original source
mentioned. For a full archive and other resources, see